BARRY LEVINE: Rock & Wrestling returns to WWE

THE OLD ROCKER: Pro wrestling renews its association with rock 'n' roll

Laurie London (Special photo)

Laurie London (Special photo)


Barry Levine

“He’s got the whole world in His hands,

He’s got the whole world in His hands,

He’s got the whole world in His hands,

He’s got the whole world in His hands.

He’s got my brothers and my sisters in His hands,

He’s got my brothers and my sisters in His hands,

He’s got my brothers and my sisters in His hands,

He’s got the whole world in His hands.”

Laurie London in 1958

Who would have thought 56 years ago that the nation’s No. 1 hit would be remembered in association with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)?

The song — “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” by 14-year-old Brit Laurie London — was atop the charts for four weeks. This was the biggest hit by a British male during the 1950s. London, who retired as a singer at 19, was one of the first to receive a gold record.

The Record Industry Association of America was created in 1958 to honor singles that sold more than 500,000 copies and the first to receive the accolade was Perry Como’s “Catch a Falling Star,” in March 1958. London’s hit record was the second to receive the recognition.

“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” was first published in 1927 and It was the only gospel song to hit No. 1 on a U.S. pop singles chart. “Put Your Hand in the Hand” by Ocean peaked at No. 2 in 1971 and “Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers reached No. 3 in 1969.

Although covered by many artists throughout the years, it never charted again after London’s version.

The song is regaining fame — maybe, notoriety is more apropos — as it has become the theme song for Bray Wyatt, the evil patriarch of the Wyatt Family consisting of 6-foot-5, 275-pound Luke Harper and 6-foot-8, 320-pound Eric Rowan.

The trio appears like rejects for parts of the mountain men in a remake of the 1972 film “Deliverance” which starred Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight.

The 6-foot-3, 285-pound Wyatt has been “feuding” with veteran WWE superstar John Cena in recent months.

As part of the “feud,” Wyatt sings “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” to Cena in an attempt to get inside his head. At an April showing of Monday Night Raw, Wyatt began singing “He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands” and, with Cena in the ring, he quickly was surrounded by a boys’ choir of an estimated 200 youngsters, serenading a befuddled Cena.

Wyatt has continued to sing the tune in future episodes. Claiming Cena’s good-guy image is a facade, Wyatt keeps telling him to “follow the buzzards.”

The Wyatt family made their WWE debut in July and have become one of the company’s hottest acts.

Bray Wyatt comes from a family of professional wrestlers.

His grandfather is Bob Windham who grappled under the name Blackjack Mulligan. He teamed with Blackjack Lanza to win the WWF tag-team championship during the 1970s.

His father, Mike Rotundo, combined with his uncle, Barry Windham, to capture the WWE tag titles during the 1980s. Rotundo also wrestled under the name Irwin R. Schyster.

Wyatt’s brother grapples under the name Bo Dallas.

This is not the first time that the WWE has used music as a key part of its shows.

In 1984, Captain Lou Albano, a WWE manager, met pop singer Cyndi Lauper on a plane flight from Puerto Rico to New York.

Her manager, David Wolff, suggested that the two collaborate on a project. Later that year, the opportunity arose when Lauper’s video for her No. 2 hit “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” needed an actor to play the singer’s father and Albano was suggested.

He was initially reluctant, but eventually acquiesced. Lauper and Albano formed a lifelong friendship and he would appear in several of her music videos.

In return, Lauper appeared on a segment of Rowdy Roddy Piper’s “Piper’s Pit” program to discuss the two’s collaboration.

Albano, in character, began denigrating Lauper and women in general and claimed to have written all of her songs, saying that was only reason for her success.

Lauper, in turn, assaulted Albano with her purse, and the two agreed to settle their differences in the ring.

Albano and Lauper agreed to choose a female wrestler to represent them in the ring. Lauper picked Wendi Richter, while Albano selected The Fabulous Moolah, who probably had been collecting Social Security for years.

The match, in July 1984, was broadcast live on MTV. During the match, Lauper interfered on Richter’s behalf by hitting Moolah in the head with her purse. Richter defeated Moolah to capture WWF title, ending Moolah’s 28-year reign.

This was the start of the WWE’s “rock ‘n’ wrestling” chapter.

The connection between Lauper and the WWF continued with videos for three of her 1984 songs – No. 10 hit “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough,” No. 1 smash “Time After Time” and No. 3 hit “She Bop.” All three videos featured pro wrestlers.

Albano was one of the most successful managers in WWF history leading a record 15 combos to the tag-team championship including the Valiant Brothers, Wild Samoans, Lumberjacks, Blackjacks, Moondogs, Masked Executioners, Demolition, Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo and British Bulldogs.

Barry Levine writes entertainment stories for The Albany Herald. He can be reached at dot0001@yahoo.com.